In Song dynasty China, the Imperial Examinations were held to determine who would become the new government leaders to replace the older hereditary system of power. According to several sources, any Chinese man of good standing could take the test. How did the education prior to taking the examination take place? In addition, did members of lower classes actually have an opportunity to receive an education to prevent the rich from maintaining their high social standing?
I have looked into this problem on several sites before, (e.g. Wikipedia:ImperialExams) but I could not find any good information on it other than a basic format of the exam. How would test takers get their education to take the test and how did government officials ensure that it was fair for the poor? How early would they begin studying for the test? How early would education typically begin? Would they study at a physical school/university or at home with a tutor?